Donttriptravel Ghana
Credit: Anitra Smith

Ghana has always peaked my curiosity. From the slave trade to the Pan-African movement of the 1960s, I knew I’d find myself on the shores of the Gold Coast. As a child of the diaspora, the slave dungeons have always been my direct connection to the continent. Here is what I found to be most profound about my experience at the slave dungeons.

Africans recount history of the Slave Trade 

Having a Ghanaian guide tell the story of the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade was powerful. This was my first time learning about an important part of my African history on the continent. The captivating stories of the Asante Kingdom, the slave raids, and British colonization were eye-opening. It was overwhelming but I needed to soak it all up because this was a privilege in my world. White supremacy in America has controlled the narratives of African history and people for so long that my thirst for the truth was too real.

Just listening to the guide share the sheer number of men and women who were captured and the inhumane conditions was gut wrenching. There were over 1,000 men stacked on top of each other for months on end with little to no food, water, or natural light. They were forced to eat, sleep, and defecate on top of each other. The ground of the dungeons were literally covered in calcified human waste. This was the most visceral reminder that this wasn’t just a horrible nightmare. There were still remnants of my ancestors in those dungeons.

Donttriptravel Ghana
The condemned cell for enslaved Africans who resisted and fought for their freedom at Elmina Slave Castle

Donttriptravel Ghana

200 million Africans were captured

60 million enslaved Africans attempted the Middle Passage

12 million survived 

Parallels between U.S Prisons and Slave Dungeons 

The similarities between the slave dungeons and modern-day U.S. prisons was beyond disturbing. The inhumane practice of packing Black bodies into a compact space with limited food, water, and natural light isn’t anything new. The condemned cells of the slave dungeons reminded me of solitary confinement in U.S prisons. In America, 1 in 3 Black men are expected to go to prison in their lifetime. This racial disparity is no coincidence. This system is doing exactly what it was designed to do; keep Black men enslaved. These same forms of oppression have remained durable for centuries and continue to hunt Black Americans generation after generation.

Donttriptravel Ghana
Cape Coast Slave Dungeon

During this trip, I experienced an array of emotions. An overwhelming sense of sadness and anger filled my spirit as I listened to the stories of sexual assault, starvation, and murder. The present day conditions and experiences of Black people around the world (West Indies, South America, and the United States) traces back to this place; to this experience. Despite the sadness and heartache, it was still astonishing be on the shores of the Cape Coast. I’d made it back to the land of my ancestors and that made me proud.

Pride and African Connection 

This experience conjured up a lot of emotions; anger, sadness, and humiliation. The most powerful feeling of them all was hope and pride. I felt proud to be Black. I’d never felt more connected to my African roots. My ancestors endured horrendous conditions and survived. Their strength and perseverance is something I carry with me in my daily life. I knew this trip would change me but I was unable to articulate just how. If you are a child of the Diaspora, it’s something you MUST experience for yourself.

I am not African because I was born in African but because Africa was born in me.” ~Dr. Kwame Nkrumah

Donttriptravel Ghana
Tour guide at the Door of Return

Children playing in a nearby fishing village

Follow Anitra on IG @donttriptravel: Anitra is a California gal, culture enthusiast, and solo female traveler on a mission to inspire young people of color to get out and see the world via her travel blog, Don’t Trip Travel. Anitra has traveled to over 20 countries across six continents. Her favorite stories come from people who recently collected their first passport stamp. Anitra is currently pursuing a master’s degree in public health from the University of California, Berkeley.

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